From [TBC] To The Polar Lands - Rolling Russia / "Near Abroad" News Thread

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Late in the year to be starting a rolling news thread but plenty of news around.

New law to limit foreign ownership of media outlets to 20%, down from 50%, proposed, likely to strengthen pro-government sources:

Fairly large anti-war protests in Moscow last week:

Depressingly, polling suggests that Putin might actually be winning back support from 'liberal' Moscow and St Petersburg, though - traditionally the only real focal points for opposition. How long that will last if rouble continues to decline remains a question.

Mikhail Khodorkovsky has formed a new political platform in exile and says that he'd be willing to lead Russia, if called upon. For the record, i would also be willing to lead Russia if called upon and would estimate my chances of it actually happening to be roughly the same. Note the shift from "oligarch" to "tycoon" in the western press over the last few years.

In other exile news, Saakashvili now lives in Williamsburg and is still kind of a dick:

In other oligarch news, Vladimir Yevtushenkov, owner of Bashneft, and one of the richest men in Russia is still under house arrest:

Seen by some as a warning shot to oligarchs to think twice about trying a 'palace coup' vs Putin to head off further economic losses. More likely a warning shot to the west that tightening the vice on Russia's economy with sanctions might be met with further moves to consolidate Kremlin control domestically.

Speculation that Russia has signed a $10bn agreement with South Africa to build nuclear power stations, denied for the moment by the SA government.

The most popular foreign leader, according a poll of Ukrainians, is...Alexander Lukashenko!Despite widely being thought of, in Russia, and the west, as a moron, Lukashenko has played both sides pretty well in the Ukraine crisis and is apparently gaining popularity in Belarus. idk if his wife is still under house arrest.

Gulnara Karimova has hired a UK-based PR company to highlight her own house arrest in Tashkent. Still a really weird situation.

Wristy Hurlington (ShariVari), Wednesday, 24 September 2014 10:17 (four years ago) Permalink

ShariVari for president of Russia, I support

, Wednesday, 24 September 2014 12:03 (four years ago) Permalink

Depressingly, polling suggests that Putin might actually be winning back support from 'liberal' Moscow and St Petersburg

polling by whom? given that the media is coming more closely under kremlin control, how reliable can these conclusions be?

busted (art), Wednesday, 24 September 2014 12:55 (four years ago) Permalink

Polling conducted by the Levada Center is generally thought to be fairly reliable outside of Russia. They are independent of government and tracked Putin's decline in popularity before he bounced back up.

Wristy Hurlington (ShariVari), Wednesday, 24 September 2014 13:47 (four years ago) Permalink

Sanctions starting to hit Muscovites where it hurts:

Fish costs jumped 30 percent in the past month, according to Dve Palochki’s Sukhochev. Customers at the 40-restaurant chain, which uses 15 tons of salmon a month, also have complained about the pale color of the Chilean salmon, he said. Sukhochev plans to roll out a new menu next month that will pass some of the added costs on to consumers.

Wristy Hurlington (ShariVari), Thursday, 25 September 2014 07:20 (four years ago) Permalink

Feel like this is a good thread to link to this

, Thursday, 25 September 2014 11:45 (four years ago) Permalink

The series from Dagestan on her site is very good.

Wristy Hurlington (ShariVari), Thursday, 25 September 2014 11:50 (four years ago) Permalink

New report on political prisoners in Uzbekistan.

Wristy Hurlington (ShariVari), Friday, 26 September 2014 05:36 (four years ago) Permalink

The Prosecutor General has requested that Bashneft be returned to state control:

Yevtushenkov, who was previously the 15th richest Russian with a net worth of £5.5bn, according to Forbes Russia, was unexpectedly charged with money laundering and embezzlement earlier this month. The accusations relate to his 80% stake in Bashneft, acquired over almost a decade from structures controlled by Ural Rakhimov, who has been placed under an international search warrant. Rakhimov initially purchased Bashneft in 2003 from the government of Russia’s republic of Bashkortostan, which was at that time led by his father.

Yevtushenkov’s case has been labelled “Yukos 2.0” by the business community and likened to the case against oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky, whose leading Yukos oil company was broken up and absorbed by state energy champion Rosneft after he was sent to prison for a decade in 2003. President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman has denied the case is politically motivated.

Wristy Hurlington (ShariVari), Saturday, 27 September 2014 07:15 (four years ago) Permalink

A suicide bombing in Grozny killed five police officers yesterday:

Ramzan Kadyrov has his own commemorative coin:

The Latvian ruling coalition (a mixture of centre-right, agrarian and hard-right parties) won about 60% of the vote in the election last week but the single largest party was broadly pro-Russian 'Harmony', on about 23%. Worth remembering that about 14% of Latvia's population (or 320,000, almost all of them Russian) aren't eligible to vote as 'non-citizens'.

Wristy Hurlington (ShariVari), Monday, 6 October 2014 11:37 (four years ago) Permalink

Wow that's a messed up status

, Monday, 6 October 2014 11:44 (four years ago) Permalink

Yes, it's the same in Estonia. Some people prefer it as it allows for easier movement to and from Russia but lots just find the naturalisation process (which requires competency in the absurdly complex Estonian language) too great a barrier. They can live there but have no right to vote.

Wristy Hurlington (ShariVari), Monday, 6 October 2014 17:02 (four years ago) Permalink

This is bonkers and already receiving pushback from members of the ruling party.

Wristy Hurlington (ShariVari), Saturday, 11 October 2014 19:25 (four years ago) Permalink

Far-right clashing with police / government in Kiev:

Tipping point seems to have been the failure of the government to formally recognise the wartime contribution of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army who allied themselves with the Nazis during WW2.

Sure it'll blow over before i'm there on Thursday.

Wristy Hurlington (ShariVari), Tuesday, 14 October 2014 13:47 (four years ago) Permalink

oh hey I missed this thread before, bookmarked and thank you!

sleeve, Tuesday, 14 October 2014 15:14 (four years ago) Permalink

Things are perversely quiet at Maidan Nezalezhnosti at the moment. I'm used to it being a hub of activity, commerce and, particularly in the run up to an election, political campaigning but there's nothing much happening now. There are some small shrines to those killed earlier in the year and enormous banners masking the most heavily damaged building proclaiming "long live Ukraine, long live the heroes". You can see where stones and bricks were prised up to use as weapons but there are few other visual signs anything happened.

My hotel doubles as the Ukraine Crisis Briefing Centre though most of the journalists seem to have gone elsewhere now. There are quite a few soldiers in fatigues sitting around outside - presumably back from the East and with nothing much to do now but drink beer and scratch up some money. There are plenty of people 'collecting for the war effort' but most are just using it as a ruse to scam some change.

The campaigning that is going on ahead of the election next week seems really subdued compared to normal. Blok Poroshenko, Timoshenko's group, Svoboda and the National Front are all present but there's very little energy and activity. I'm used to huge tents, lots of noise and lots of people but it's very quiet at the moment. The one huge element missing is the Party Of The Regions, of course.

There's more nationalist kitsch about and some Pravy Sektor graffiti here and there but no sign of the huge far-right presence that was here earlier in the week.

The one really obvious difference from the last time I was here is the sense of economic decline. Lots of shops in the glitzy malls are vacant, the main shopping streets are very quiet and Bessarabsky Rynok looks almost like a normal fruit and veg market. The combination of uncertain incomes and rampant inflation has hit hard. Also fewer adverts for new flats and high-interest savings accounts.

Wristy Hurlington (ShariVari), Friday, 17 October 2014 13:11 (four years ago) Permalink

Radek Sikorski apparently told Politico that Putin had offered to partition Ukraine with Poland in a meeting with Donald Tusk in Moscow in 2008.

He's currently backtracking and getting rinsed by his own Prime Minister:

Wristy Hurlington (ShariVari), Tuesday, 21 October 2014 16:57 (four years ago) Permalink

Looks like the Russia / Ukraine gas deal has stalled. The price has been agreed but Ukraine simply doesn't have any money to pay either outstanding debts or for winter deliveries.

Russia has said the EU should cover immediate costs, the EU isn't particularly keen. I was discussing this with a Ukrainian colleague the other day, someone fully behind the move towards closer ties with Western Europe, and we both came to the conclusion that the EU had vastly understimated how much money it would cost to bring Ukraine out of Russia's orbit. If the intention was to rebuild the country's economic and financial structure to ensure it wasn't predominantly reliant on Russia in the future and could, one day, be a candidate country for membership, there needs to be an international commitment to supporting that with hundreds of billions of Euro. Weaselling out of offering €2bn to keep the lights on this winter isn't a good sign any real effort will be made to follow through on the hints and half promises made earlier in the year. Ultimately, the EU probably can't afford to back Ukraine properly and is justifiably concerned about where a lot of the money would go if it did.

Wristy Hurlington (ShariVari), Wednesday, 22 October 2014 06:25 (four years ago) Permalink

"from the southern seas to the Polish lands" amirite guys

intelligent, expressive males within the greater metropolitan (Bananaman Begins), Wednesday, 22 October 2014 10:20 (four years ago) Permalink

sv what do you think of kaspaov

the final twilight of all evaluative standpoints (nakhchivan), Friday, 24 October 2014 21:55 (four years ago) Permalink


the final twilight of all evaluative standpoints (nakhchivan), Friday, 24 October 2014 21:55 (four years ago) Permalink

Not a fan. I think he's broadly sincere but extremely naive. On paper a lot of his proposals have sounded reasonable in the past but his alignment with US neocons and various dubious oligarchs have always given the impression that he's being used as a palatable front for much more sinister interests. He has become increasingly hysterical in his rhetoric in recent years too. The Other Russia concept of a broad anti-Putin alliance spanning the whole political spectrum was interesting for a while but at this stage he's just an irrelevance playing to a Western gallery. He doesn't even have any real support from Russian liberals. Navalny is a more significant figure these days.

Wristy Hurlington (ShariVari), Friday, 24 October 2014 22:18 (four years ago) Permalink

If the exit polls are to be believed, Poroshenko has done much worse than expected and Yatseniuk much better.

БПП (23%), "НАРОДНЫЙ ФРОНТ"(21,3%), "САМОПОМИЧ"(13,2%), ОБ (7,6%), РАДИКАЛЬНАЯ ПАРТИЯ(6,4%), "СВОБОДА"(6,3%), "БАТЬКИВЩИНА"(5,6%) НАЦ ЭП

Real success for the Samopomich party too. Lyashko's Radical Party was polling at around 12% previously, so to see them take only half of that is a relief. Timoshenko polling behind Svoboda looks like total humiliation.

Hopefully this will mean a fairly stable Poroshenko / Yatseniuk coalition that doesn't need to draw support from the further-right.

Wristy Hurlington (ShariVari), Sunday, 26 October 2014 18:28 (three years ago) Permalink

Should probably post that in English, really:

БПП (23%) - Blok Petro Poroshenko (centre-right, pro-European, nationalist) - party of the current President.

"НАРОДНЫЙ ФРОНТ"(21,3%)- People's Front (hard-right, pro-European, nationalist) - party of former PM Arseniy Yatseniuk. Previously closer to Poroshenko but turned increasingly to the right as the relationship faltered.

"САМОПОМИЧ"(13,2%) - Samopomich (Christian Conservative, pro-European, nationalist) - effectively a regional party with a lot of supporters in the West of the country. Hanna Hopko, who headed their party list, is one to watch out for in the future, she was very active in the protests and has picked up a lot of attention internationally. Second on the list was Semen Semenchenko who was the head of the anti-separatist Donbass Battalion militia.

ОБ (7,6%) - Opposition Block (conservative, pro-Russian) - disorganised remnant of the Party Of The Regions, previously the largest party in Ukraine.

РАДИКАЛЬНАЯ ПАРТИЯ(6,4%) - Radical Party (far-right, pro-European, nationalist) - wildcard party led by Oleh Lyashko, an antisemitic vigilante nutcase.

"СВОБОДА"(6,3%) - Svoboda (neo-Nazi, nationalist)

"БАТЬКИВЩИНА"(5,6%) - Bat'kivshina (conservative, pro-European, nationalist) - Yulia Timoshenko's party. Seems to have completely collapsed.

Turnout was around 40% nationally, though as low as 16% in Odessa.

Wristy Hurlington (ShariVari), Sunday, 26 October 2014 19:11 (three years ago) Permalink

Wristy Hurlington (ShariVari), Sunday, 26 October 2014 19:19 (three years ago) Permalink

Anyone interested can keep track of the results as they come in here:

With a third of the vote counted, Yatseniuk's party is actually fractionally in front of Poroshenko's, though to all intents and purposes, it's a dead heat.

Wristy Hurlington (ShariVari), Monday, 27 October 2014 08:05 (three years ago) Permalink

good luck ukraine

intelligent, expressive males within the greater metropolitan (Bananaman Begins), Monday, 27 October 2014 10:09 (three years ago) Permalink

Still only 72% of ballots counted but it looks like the proportion of the Fascist vote going to Lyashko was underestimated and Svoboda might just miss the 5% threshold for PR representation as a result. They are at 4.7% at the moment.

Positives, if things stay as they, are would be that between them, the three main parties should be able to form a stable government in the short term. The worst case scenario of Lyashko getting 15% and getting to act as kingmaker has been avoided. Svoboda will probably miss out on PR seats. Timoshenko faces at least a couple of years in the wilderness. There are a few interesting new faces (Mustafa Nayem, Hanna Hopko, etc). Yatseniuk's rep as a safe pair of hands might mean the EU is more likely to open the purse strings if he is PM.

Negatives are zero representation from parties that can credibly be called liberal, progressive or leftist. No parties that can credibly claim to bridge ethnic gap. Only voices for Russian Ukrainians are the dregs of the party run out of town (meaning most had nobody worth voting for, and didn't bother). Nobody to act as a break on the rush to IMF austerity. Approx 14% of the vote for Fascist parties. Two of the six parties explicitly controlled by oligarchs, at least three of the remaining four covertly controlled by them (not sure about Samopomich but wouldn't be surprised). No sign of grass roots politics taking hold.

Despite his recently discovered appreciation of WW2 war criminals, Poroshenko is probably the closest thing to a European moderate and losing so much ground to Yatseniuk isn't good news either.

Wristy Hurlington (ShariVari), Monday, 27 October 2014 18:57 (three years ago) Permalink

kinda lol but mostly sad

intelligent, expressive males within the greater metropolitan (Bananaman Begins), Tuesday, 28 October 2014 09:42 (three years ago) Permalink

RT is going to launch a dedicated UK channel this week:

Not a huge amount of bespoke programming but they've apparently been spending a lot on recruitment so it's likely to grow. No doubt my dad, who watches it religiously for some reason, will be thrilled. If the price of oil keeps dropping the spending on propaganda might scale back, though.

Wristy Hurlington (ShariVari), Wednesday, 29 October 2014 08:16 (three years ago) Permalink

Balkanist has been running some great cultural content recently, particularly about turbofolk in Serbia. They're going to do a horror film supplement for Halloween in the next day or two as well.

Wristy Hurlington (ShariVari), Wednesday, 29 October 2014 08:39 (three years ago) Permalink

RT is kinda fascinating as a repository of stuff which would otherwise never make it onto television in any semi serious form but is instead lent the authoritative news-channel-sheen. max keiser flatly explaining to russell brand how a newly independent scotland should adopt bitcoin as its currency and there's not even really a hint that there might be another credible view

ogmor, Wednesday, 29 October 2014 14:06 (three years ago) Permalink

RT guy on R4 just now not really doing a good job of selling it

DG, Wednesday, 29 October 2014 16:49 (three years ago) Permalink

rt >>>>> r4

the final twilight of all evaluative standpoints (nakhchivan), Wednesday, 29 October 2014 16:54 (three years ago) Permalink

no, come on, you can't seriously be comparing the craven and mendacious propaganda arm of an authoritarian government with Russia Today ho ho ho

intelligent, expressive males within the greater metropolitan (Bananaman Begins), Wednesday, 29 October 2014 16:58 (three years ago) Permalink

That's what the RT guy said

DG, Wednesday, 29 October 2014 16:59 (three years ago) Permalink

Kyiv's oldest and best cinema, Zhovten, burned down last night in what's thought to have been an arson attack.

It had been the subject of an ongoing land dispute but the suspicion is that it's linked to the fact it was showing Mario Fanfani's Les Nuits d'Ete as part of an LGBT-friendly film festival.

Wristy Hurlington (ShariVari), Thursday, 30 October 2014 08:04 (three years ago) Permalink

cool that ukraine has detached itself from the corrupt, bigoted, authoritarian Russian sphere of influence tho

intelligent, expressive males within the greater metropolitan (Bananaman Begins), Thursday, 30 October 2014 11:08 (three years ago) Permalink

Russia / Ukraine deal on gas has been finalised with the EU acting as guarantor. Someone has come up with $3bn from somewhere to cover old debts and down payment. Means the heating will stay on through the winter, which is great news.

Wristy Hurlington (ShariVari), Thursday, 30 October 2014 22:15 (three years ago) Permalink

The number of people who say they'd vote for Putin again if there was an election tomorrow has dipped below 50% for the first time since the Ukraine crisis started - possibly a hint that there are concerns about sanctions hitting the economy.

It's still substantially higher than the 26% he was polling earlier in the year and with Gennady Zyuganov of the Communist Party in second place (with 7%) it's not exactly a sign of greater plurality.

Wristy Hurlington (ShariVari), Friday, 31 October 2014 08:17 (three years ago) Permalink

This guy has just been made Chief Of Police in Kyiv

Note the insignia on his shirt.

He's Deputy Commander of the neo-Nazi Azov militia.

Neither of the two main parties are Fascist in any meaningful sense but clearly there's a perceived need to pander to the extreme right.

Wristy Hurlington (ShariVari), Saturday, 1 November 2014 14:42 (three years ago) Permalink

Reports are coming through suggesting that the suspected Moscow "Grand Theft Auto" killers have been caught.

They were apparently putting spikes on roads late at night and shooting anyone whose cars got stopped by them, for no apparent reason. Nothing was ever stolen. They were thought to have killed at least 14 people in the last few months. It sounds a bit like an urban legend but is supposedly 100% true.

Wristy Hurlington (ShariVari), Thursday, 6 November 2014 12:13 (three years ago) Permalink

The Rouble has gone crazy. Was about 50 to the GBP this time last year. Was 71 yesterday, 76 today.

Wristy Hurlington (ShariVari), Friday, 7 November 2014 08:15 (three years ago) Permalink

Banks are reportedly running out of foreign currency (as they did in Ukraine months ago) because so many people are trying to take their savings out in Dollars and Euro. If it hasn't happened already, i wouldn't be surprised to see them follow Ukraine in limiting the amount of cash people can take out in a day.

Wristy Hurlington (ShariVari), Friday, 7 November 2014 08:18 (three years ago) Permalink


sleeve, Friday, 7 November 2014 15:01 (three years ago) Permalink

The "ceasefire", which was never really a ceasefire on either side, looks officially over now. Ukraine has claimed separatists in Donetsk have received a resupply of heavy weaponry from Russia and the Ukrainian army has stepped up shelling of the area. ITAR-TASS says that they've hit a kindergarten, killing several children. The Netherlands have donated €500k worth of what are euphemistically in Ukraine called "wearable anti-cold-systems" (which means warm coats and boots without holes in them) but nobody has committed to donating arms yet. There's speculation that the US Republicans might try to force something through, though idk if they would be allowed to even if they wanted to.

Interesting things happening in Georgia. The firing of the Defense Minister has been seen by some, particularly the fired Defense Minister, as a shift away from Europe and towards Russia. The government has restated that EU membership remains a priority though.

Wristy Hurlington (ShariVari), Sunday, 9 November 2014 11:16 (three years ago) Permalink

Azerbaijan has shot down an Armenian helicopter that was apparently flying close to the border of Nagorno-Karabakh and Azerbaijan proper.

Wristy Hurlington (ShariVari), Wednesday, 12 November 2014 13:11 (three years ago) Permalink

More on the Armenia / Azeri helicopter thing:

“This is the worst military incident in more than 20 years since the cease-fire,” Thomas de Waal, senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said by e-mail from Washington.

Seen as a continuation of the incidents that killed around 20 people in the summer, that's probably true.

Wristy Hurlington (ShariVari), Thursday, 13 November 2014 08:29 (three years ago) Permalink

Not really region-specific but the ability of any currency to drop about 15% in an hour and a quarter when the automated trades are triggered is fairly terrifying. Ukraine keeps ploughing money into trying to stabilise the UAH and the effects last about a week before being totally wiped out. I'm not sure what you can do in that situation.

Wristy Hurlington (ShariVari), Thursday, 13 November 2014 08:40 (three years ago) Permalink

And as ShariVari says, it's not really a difficult question whether or not Russia is to blame. If it's Novichok, they are to blame. They either did this, or lost control. It's nothing like 2003.

Frederik B, Wednesday, 14 March 2018 17:53 (seven months ago) Permalink

no that shit doesn't necessarily exist and if it does can be made in a garage pron. garridge.

Hunt3r, Thursday, 15 March 2018 19:25 (seven months ago) Permalink

but its a Canary link!

calzino, Thursday, 15 March 2018 19:30 (seven months ago) Permalink

In other news, Ukrainian domestic politics is still 0_o.

The “Ukrainian Joan of Arc” Nadezhda Savchenko, who was hailed by the international media as a potential future President and garlanded with accolades by Poroshenko when she was released from Russian prison has:

a) been accused of plotting a coup / to massacre the Ukrainian parliament
b) accused (possibly accidentally) the Speaker of the Rada of orchestrating false flag sniper killings during the Maidan protests

Wag1 Shree Rajneesh (ShariVari), Thursday, 15 March 2018 23:31 (seven months ago) Permalink

The exit polls suggest Project 70/70 (Putin winning 70% of the vote from a 70% turnout) has fallen short of the mark. It’s currently looking like 72% vote share from what would be considered a disappointing 59% turnout, despite the prospect of discounted buckwheat at polling stations.

Wag1 Shree Rajneesh (ShariVari), Sunday, 18 March 2018 18:43 (seven months ago) Permalink

I find such blatant electoral blackmail completely bulgur tbh.

calzino, Sunday, 18 March 2018 19:46 (seven months ago) Permalink


illegal economic migration (Tracer Hand), Sunday, 18 March 2018 20:46 (seven months ago) Permalink

Good luck rossiyskaya federatsiya

(robot gives Mum a hot dirty slap) (Bananaman Begins), Sunday, 18 March 2018 20:56 (seven months ago) Permalink

I find such blatant electoral blackmail completely bulgur tbh.

― calzino, Sunday, March 18, 2018 3:46 PM (four hours ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

you spelt that funny

motorpsycho nightmare winningham (Hadrian VIII), Monday, 19 March 2018 00:22 (seven months ago) Permalink

A video is now being shown in Ukraine's parliament of MP Nadia Savchenko talking with alleged co-conspirators - she's talking about killing the country's President and other leaders in parliament...

— Jonah Fisher (@JonahFisherBBC) March 22, 2018

Savchenko currently chuckling to herself, sitting in parliament, as the video of her describing where to put the grenades is being played. The whole thing is very odd.

In other news, Kommersant, RBK, Ekho, Dozd and RTVi, some of Russia’s leading press orgs, are boycotting all future coverage of the Russian parliament after an MP who’d essentially admitted to sexually harrassing three women was cleared by the ethics board.

Wag1 Shree Rajneesh (ShariVari), Thursday, 22 March 2018 11:32 (seven months ago) Permalink

Is it significant or unusual that so many press orgs are boycotting, or par for the course?

Chuck_Tatum, Thursday, 22 March 2018 12:30 (seven months ago) Permalink

Absolutely unprecedented afaict.

Wag1 Shree Rajneesh (ShariVari), Thursday, 22 March 2018 12:37 (seven months ago) Permalink

That's insane about the terrorist/coup plot. She's ... anti-Russian, pro Ukraine independence? So she wanted to blow up a bunch of Russian gov't proxies?

Josh in Chicago, Thursday, 22 March 2018 12:50 (seven months ago) Permalink

She’s a fierce Ukrainian nationalist but beyond that, it’s not entirely clear what she is up to. Her position is that politicians are weak / cowardly and that a military coup to clear the decks, possibly followed by some kind of military rule, would get the country back on track.

I don’t think she views the government as a Russian proxy, just the wrong kind of Ukrainians. Inevitably other Ukrainian nationalists who back the government are accusing her of being a Russian plant, etc.

Wag1 Shree Rajneesh (ShariVari), Thursday, 22 March 2018 13:04 (seven months ago) Permalink

Savchenko has been stripped of her immunity and arrested now.

On a more positive note, Ryanair has announced it is going to start flying to Kyiv Borispil this year. A previous agreement had fallen through under pressure from the Ukrainian state airline. It will be interesting to see how much uptake there is. It’s seen as a symbolic victory for those pushing for closer integration with Europe. Hopefully it can boost tourism beyond stag groups and sex pests, etc.

The Russian media boycott now has 22 participants including, rather strangely, Spetznaz Rossii - an outlet that appears to mostly cover commandos / special forces and related news. It isn’t just the usual list of liberal / opposition places.

On a related note, a male journalist has accused Vladimir Zhirinovsky, the far-right leader and presidential candidate, of groping him.

Wag1 Shree Rajneesh (ShariVari), Friday, 23 March 2018 18:09 (seven months ago) Permalink

Fine article on what could be done, that should dovetail with wishes for better financial regulation quite nicely.

Frederik B, Friday, 30 March 2018 17:12 (six months ago) Permalink

two weeks pass...

This is great:

Russia banned Telegram on the basis that it’s widely used by terrorists and the owners wouldn’t share encryption keys with the government. In trying to block it, the internet censor Roskomnadzor has managed to accidentally block four million IP addresses, including their own. Somehow they have also managed to accidentally unblock all the sites that they had previously made inaccessible over the years. The peak may have been when they accidentally blocked one of RT’s stations at the exact point the head of Roskomnadzor was giving an interview.

Wag1 Shree Rajneesh (ShariVari), Tuesday, 17 April 2018 19:43 (six months ago) Permalink

There's no thread for Armenia, but this seems to be significant here as well: Another pro-Russian leader resigns after popular protests:

Armenia is the main Russian ally in Caucasus, right?

Frederik B, Monday, 23 April 2018 13:17 (six months ago) Permalink

His resigning statement is really... something:

Frederik B, Monday, 23 April 2018 13:22 (six months ago) Permalink

Armenia is politically closer to Russia than Georgia and Azerbaijan are but this isn't really Ukraine Part 2. There's debate over whether Armenia should stay in the Eurasian Union or aim for a closer relationship with the EU, and the protest leaders like Pashinyan are generally on the pro-EU side, but the core drive behind the protests over the last two years have been economic and constitutional, rather than being particularly focused on foreign policy.

Wag1 Shree Rajneesh (ShariVari), Monday, 23 April 2018 13:34 (six months ago) Permalink

There's a pretty strong suspicion, supported by Zakharova posting a fairly welcoming message on Facebook, that Russia used their leverage to get him to resign. The assumption is probably that he, personally, was a lighting-rod for protests but the core support for the ruling party remains strong enough to ride out any challenges.

Wag1 Shree Rajneesh (ShariVari), Monday, 23 April 2018 13:46 (six months ago) Permalink

Thanks! But can foreign policy and economic issues be separated with a country like Armenia? The Eurasian Union doesn't seem to have payed off for Armenia.

Frederik B, Monday, 23 April 2018 13:59 (six months ago) Permalink

The argument that Pashinyan makes is that, economically, Armenia would be better off if it had opted for a trade deal with the EU instead but it's not particularly clear that there has been any significant impact one way or the other on the main flashpoint - which is the price of electricity. There's certainly some pro-EU sentiment in the country but it's nothing like the scale in Ukraine - Pashinyan's bloc got less than 8% at the last election and he was trounced in the Yerevan mayoral vote last year iirc.

Armenia has decent export ties to Germany and Bulgaria but it's a very small economy and can't trade with any of its bordering countries other than Georgia, really, and there's a massive reliance on imports from Russia. There could potentially be an upside to closer EU links but, presented as a binary, the Eurasian Union arguably makes more sense, at least in the medium term.

Georgia has more leeway as they've managed to diversify away from reliance on Russia by trading with Turkey, which isn't an option for Armenia.

Wag1 Shree Rajneesh (ShariVari), Monday, 23 April 2018 15:50 (six months ago) Permalink

And for Armenia there's also the problem with Nagorno-Karabakh and the hostilities with oil rich Azerbaijan. It makes sense for Armenia to be close to Russia, sure. But membership of the Eurasian Union can't look too good right now to Moldova, Tadjikistan, etc.

Frederik B, Monday, 23 April 2018 17:49 (six months ago) Permalink

Tajikistan will probably move closer to the Eurasian Union but stop short of full membership. Moldova has done the same recently - opt for Observer status instead of joining. They both have alternative options but it’s worth remembering how important remittances from immigrants working in Russia are to both economies.

Wag1 Shree Rajneesh (ShariVari), Monday, 23 April 2018 18:07 (six months ago) Permalink

It looks like there is now a non-negligible chance that the new PM might not come from the ruling party - which would require a few government members to vote against their parliamentary bloc.

If that happened, the new PM is most likely to come from the oil oligarch Gagik Tsarukyan’s party. Tsarukyan has always had fairly close ties to the senior leadership within the government though.

Wag1 Shree Rajneesh (ShariVari), Saturday, 28 April 2018 09:23 (five months ago) Permalink

Get an inside look at post-Soviet disputed territories – now in English thanks to @Hromadske

— Eilish Hart (@EilishHart) May 7, 2018

mookieproof, Monday, 7 May 2018 14:42 (five months ago) Permalink

Serge Tankian from SOAD was the star guest at the rally in Yerevan last night supporting Pashinyan for PM.

The parliamentary vote is today, I think, and Pashinyan rates his chances “at 95%”. His rise, even over the last week, has been astonishing. There are probably too many people on the street in Yerevan for him not to be made PM though how that translates in the long-term remains to be seen.

Wag1 Shree Rajneesh (ShariVari), Tuesday, 8 May 2018 08:49 (five months ago) Permalink

He was right!

Parliament votes:
Yes - 59
No - 42
Nikol Pashinyan elected Prime Minister

— EVN Report (@evn_report) May 8, 2018

Wag1 Shree Rajneesh (ShariVari), Tuesday, 8 May 2018 09:38 (five months ago) Permalink


Frederik B, Tuesday, 8 May 2018 09:57 (five months ago) Permalink

three weeks pass...

BREAKING: Russian journalist Arkady Babchenko, who was reported killed in Kiev, shows up at a news conference in Ukraine.

— The Associated Press (@AP) May 30, 2018

mookieproof, Wednesday, 30 May 2018 14:32 (four months ago) Permalink


Poisoned by Johan's pea soup. (Tom D.), Wednesday, 30 May 2018 14:33 (four months ago) Permalink

Andrei Babchenko, a Russian war vet turned journalist, was murdered in Kyiv a few days ago.

Ukraine and Russia both pointed to each other- though Ukraine apparently seems a bit more motivated about solving this one than Pavel Sheremet. There has been a huge outpouring of horror from journalists across the spectrum.

One slight wrinkle is that he isn’t actually dead.


— Kevin Rothrock (@KevinRothrock) May 30, 2018

The whole thing was apparently a stunt.

Xp lol

Wag1 Shree Rajneesh (ShariVari), Wednesday, 30 May 2018 14:38 (four months ago) Permalink

The Ukrainian security services have said they faked the assassination to catch some actual assassins hired to kill him.

Wag1 Shree Rajneesh (ShariVari), Wednesday, 30 May 2018 14:41 (four months ago) Permalink

He apologised to his wife at the press conference, understandably.

Wag1 Shree Rajneesh (ShariVari), Wednesday, 30 May 2018 14:48 (four months ago) Permalink

Soon to be ex-wife, I imagine.

Poisoned by Johan's pea soup. (Tom D.), Wednesday, 30 May 2018 14:49 (four months ago) Permalink

A Russian journalist that isn't murdered. This is huge.

lbi's life of limitless european glamour (Le Bateau Ivre), Wednesday, 30 May 2018 14:52 (four months ago) Permalink

They’re currently taking down his memorial plaque.

One of the most amazing details is that it was his wife who found him - covered in blood and pretending to be on the brink of death. She called an ambulance and he ‘died’ on the way to hospital. She literally just found out he wasn’t dead this afternoon.

Wag1 Shree Rajneesh (ShariVari), Wednesday, 30 May 2018 15:07 (four months ago) Permalink


"I would like to issue condolences to the Babchenko family", said the Ukrainian special forces officer. Then added, after a pause: "But I won't do it. Instead, I will wish him another happy birthday."
After which, Babchenko walks in...

But such happy news, though!

— Slava Malamud (@SlavaMalamud) May 30, 2018

nxd, Wednesday, 30 May 2018 15:10 (four months ago) Permalink

After revealing that Babchenko was alive Ukrainian Prosecutor General Lutsenko smugly read tweets from MPs and other criticizing authorities for failing to prevent Babchenko’s death

— Ian Bateson (@ianbateson) May 30, 2018

Wag1 Shree Rajneesh (ShariVari), Wednesday, 30 May 2018 15:12 (four months ago) Permalink

His wife should murder him for real

badg, Wednesday, 30 May 2018 15:56 (four months ago) Permalink

This entire story is insane, but a big part of me wonders what was going through the mind of the real assassins when they heard someone else had got there first. TBF I'm sketchy on the details of exactly how the faked assassination led to the real conspirators, but apparently they also intercepted a list of 30 other targets.

Matt DC, Wednesday, 30 May 2018 19:40 (four months ago) Permalink

I would guess that they arrested the potential assassin before staging it and the sting was for whoever paid him.

There are lots of questions to answer though. The police have released a brief clip of people (possibly undercover security agents) handing $30k to the guy who they have arrested - filmed from a camera hidden in the bag of money they gave him.

Wag1 Shree Rajneesh (ShariVari), Wednesday, 30 May 2018 20:17 (four months ago) Permalink

One of the most amazing details is that it was his wife who found him - covered in blood and pretending to be on the brink of death. She called an ambulance and he ‘died’ on the way to hospital. She literally just found out he wasn’t dead this afternoon.

Is there an account of the staging anywhere?

xyzzzz__, Wednesday, 30 May 2018 20:50 (four months ago) Permalink

Nothing cohesive that I have seen yet - just bits and pieces from journalists at the press conference.

Wag1 Shree Rajneesh (ShariVari), Wednesday, 30 May 2018 21:13 (four months ago) Permalink

Not sure where to begin with this.

The man accused of being the go-between for the person committing the hit has claimed in court to have been working with the Ukrainian secret service all along. The prosecutor says this doesn’t seem likely.

The accused also says Ukrainian intelligence contracted a man called Alexey Tsymbalyuk to serve as the hitman. Tsymbalyuk is a) a priest, b) an open, seig-heiling, swastika-wearing neo-Nazi and c) a veteran of the war in Donbass - fighting on the Ukrainian side. The Ukrainian secret service says this isn’t true.

Wag1 Shree Rajneesh (ShariVari), Thursday, 31 May 2018 21:34 (four months ago) Permalink

four months pass...

o shit is rod dreher gonna convert again

mookieproof, Thursday, 11 October 2018 19:49 (one week ago) Permalink

Roffle. He posted some sort of 'uh well I dunno' post when this first came up.

Ned Raggett, Thursday, 11 October 2018 19:50 (one week ago) Permalink

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